Farming Minister George Eustice has outlined the steps the Government is taking to try and keep African swine fever out of the country.
Responding to a question from the DUP’s Jim Shannon, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Eggs, Pigs and Poultry, Mr Eustice (pictured speaking at a recent APPG reception) said Defra has robust contingency plans in place to respond to outbreaks of disease such as ASF, which are regularly tested.
The disease control measures are set out in the Great Britain African and Classical swine fever control strategy, he added.
“In response to the spread of ASF in Eastern Europe, and confirmation of the disease in feral pigs in Belgium, Defra’s risk assessment level has been raised to medium,” he said.
“This has been widely communicated to the industry and pig keepers. Disease control measures put in place in affected countries in Europe should ensure that no live pigs or wild boar, meat or products reach the UK through legal trade. It is already illegal to import any wild boar into the UK.
“An ongoing communications campaign organised by Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, and DAERA in Northern Ireland, together with the pig industry and veterinary bodies, has been raising awareness of the risks of the introduction of ASF to the UK.
“Messages have been communicated using a variety of channels and have targeted key audiences, including all pig keepers, smallholders, vets, slaughterhouses, hunters and transport operators.
“These included measures that pig keepers can take to protect their pigs, reminding them of the ban on swill feeding, reporting clinical disease promptly, not allowing people on farm who have had a history of recent travel to ASF affected areas, as well as the risks posed by personal imports of meat from these areas.”
“Hunters and hauliers were also reminded to clean their equipment and vehicles before returning to the UK from affected countries to help prevent the spread of ASF, not just to the UK, but also to other EU countries. Other messages and signs have been targeted at the public more widely.”